Although many men are reluctant to discuss their struggles with the condition, erectile dysfunction is a common ailment affecting around 30 million men in the United States alone. Although many people assume that erectile dysfunction is a natural consequence of aging, ED is considered a medical condition at any age, and should prompt men to seek out medical attention and treatment.
If you’re struggling with erectile dysfunction or know a loved one who is silently suffering from this condition, it’s important to seek out answers to the questions you and/or your loved one may be asking. To help give you the information you need to understand the condition and seek out help, we’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions to shed light on this ailment while separating erectile dysfunction facts from myth.
What is Erectile Dysfunction?
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to produce an erection capable of having sex. In some men, ED may result in an erection that is semi-firm but unable to be used for penetration. In other cases, men may struggle to produce an erection in any form.
While it’s possible for any man to experience an acute struggle to produce an erection, erectile dysfunction typically refers to a chronic inability to get an erection.
What Causes Erectile Dysfunction?
The causes of erectile dysfunction can be complex and multi-faceted, encompassing both physical and psychological factors. While identifying the causes for any case of ED may be difficult, the most common causes of this condition include cardiovascular health issues —including high blood pressure or heart disease—as well as diabetes, obesity, sleep disorders, hormonal imbalances, prostate issues, depression, and stress, among others.
At What Age Does Erectile Dysfunction Occur?
Erectile dysfunction can occur at any age, although it is more common as men grow older. Men ages 75 and older are the most likely to develop erectile dysfunction, but younger men can still experience erectile dysfunction depending on the causes of this condition.
An individual experiencing erectile dysfunction at age 30, for example, may have different causes—such as stress or hormonal issues—from an individual experiencing erectile dysfunction at age 50 or age 75, although it’s also possible for men of very different ages to have similar or identical causes of their ED.
Are There Risk Factors for Developing Erectile Dysfunction?
A number of erectile dysfunction risk factors have been identified by medical experts . Research shows that you’re more likely to develop ED if you possess any of the following risk factors:
- Tobacco use
- Alcohol use
- Drug use
- Depression or anxiety
- High stress
- Medical conditions identified above as potential causes of ED
- Prostate or other chronic conditions
- The use of certain medications, including those used to treat depression and high blood pressure
- Penile injury
What Can I Do to Prevent Erectile Dysfunction?
The best way to prevent erectile dysfunction is to avoid any of the risk factors believed to increase your likelihood of ED—particularly lifestyle risk factors such as smoking and alcohol use.
Regular exercise and overall cardiovascular health are great ways to promote sexual health by maintaining good blood pressure. Stress management may also be helpful, along with eating a balanced diet high in vegetables, which will further support cardiovascular and all-around health.
What Treatment Options Exist for Erectile Dysfunction?
Once a medical professional has diagnosed your erectile dysfunction, you may consider a number of interventions to address and even eliminate your ED. Depending on your doctor’s treatment plan, these may include:
- Medication. Viagra and other prescription medications may be successful in helping you produce an erection.
- Therapy or other psychological interventions. If your ED is being caused by depression or stress, mental health treatments may be effective at easing erectile dysfunction.
- Exercise. If you don’t regularly exercise, this could make a significant impact on your cardiovascular health, your stress levels, and your ability to produce an erection.
- Penile implants. For serious cases of erectile dysfunction, a penile implant featuring a rod or pump may be used to restore your ability to get an erection.
When Should I See a Doctor About Erectile Dysfunction?
An individual should seek the attention of a doctor if they have experienced more than one instance of being unable to get an erection, or if they’re worried about their ability to consistently produce an erection during sexual arousal. A doctor visit may be even more urgent and advisable if you have clear risk factors that may be causing or contributing to your ED.
While you may choose to consult first with a primary care physician, you may also choose to seek out a men’s health provider specializing in erectile
If you or someone you know is struggling with erectile dysfunction, there’s no need to struggle in silence. Seek out the help of a men’s health provider to get started on the path to an effective treatment.